Perspectives from ISB

Big C, or Big C Supercenter, is a grocery and general merchandising retailer headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand. With 697 stores, a market capitalization of $4.60 billion, it is Thailand’s second-largest hypermarket operator after Tesco. It has operations in three countries – Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The chain of stores was started in 1993 by the Central Group of Companies, a family owned conglomerate holding company in Thailand.

The French retailer Casino Group, owned by the Naouri and Guichard families, bought a majority stake in Big C in 1999, during the Asian Financial Crises. This recapitalization not only strengthened the financials of Big C but also helped it to improve operations and expand globally. Led by Casino’s controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri, the group is dangerously leveraged with over $6.7 billion of debt on recent fourth-quarter sales of $13.4 billion. Facing pressure from investors, the group made commitments to sell $4.5 billion in assets this year.

As part of this restructuring Casino Group, has agreed to sell its majority stake in Big C for $3.4 billion to Thailand’s TCC Group – controlled by Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi and family. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi heads one of the most influential and politically connected family businesses in Thailand. This sale is sure to take Big C to even greater heights in the near future.


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